“Beijing 2008, the Olympics. USA, Gold, Michael Phelps. Water Cube, Bird’s Nest, Opening Ceremony of a lifetime. China, medals, athletics….”
These words swirled in my mind as we headed towards the Olympic Village stationed in Beijing. As our bus neared the area, my heart leapt when I saw a monument bearing the Olympic rings in the distance. I couldn’t believe that I was actually there, the place where all the Olympic magic happened 9 years ago. When our bus stopped, I rushed out to the get a view of Water Cube and Bird’s Nest. The coveted arenas of my favorite athletic events. Even though I had heard stories about how the facilities had degraded in the years following the games, I was impossible to tell their fate from the outside and I was in awe just being in the presence of their facades.
During our ride to the Olympic Village, our guide told us about the high regard Chinese people hold jade, including their belief in its healing powers, and luckiness. The hard, green stone is held to such high regard that it was inlaid into each medal given to the athletes at the games. An old Chinese story goes that when it comes to gambling, you are forbidden to have jade on oneself as it is too lucky and considered cheating. Maybe this is why the jade medals are only given after competition?